David Harrell turned 50 years old, and the bug that had been nibbling on him for years and years finally bit hard. He couldn’t stand it anymore and his wife Stacy said, “well why don’t you quit talking about it and go do it”.
That’s all he needed.
The “bug” was an itch to go try his hand at professional bass fishing on the major stage. Harrell, an enforcement agent with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, did go and do it. He entered the BASS Open tournament circuit in 2019 as a co-angler. That’s an angler who fishes in the back of the boat with the full-time pros. But co-anglers also have a chance to win money and David is batting .500, winning cash in two of the four events this year.
“Man, it’s been a blast,” he said. “Last week in Oklahoma, I was just one fish away from making the final day cut and a shot at some big money. It was the same the tournament before last on the Mississippi River all the way up in Wisconsin. Just one more fish. In fact, one of my fishing buddies has nicknamed me ‘one-fish Harrell’. I’m ready to shake that!”
In this past weekend’s tournament, David fished with long-time pro Stacy King and had a great day, catching just under ten pounds to come in second after the first day. His day two catch wasn’t as good and he missed the final day cut, but he did get to spend the day with up-and-coming Louisiana pro Logan Latusa. He said he learns a lot everytime he gets in the boat with one of those guys.
“Fishing in the back of the boat behind those guys is hard,” David said. “Heck man, they don’t miss much and they work it over. Stacy had caught four or five fish by the outside cypress trees last weekend on the first morning before I got a bite and I started thinking it was going to be a long day. But I started fishing a little different bait and really watched where he was fishing. When he missed something, I made sure I hit it. The last fish I caught came back behind two trees where there was a brush top. He hit both trees, but not the top. I threw my bait in there and bam, had a nice one. That’s the key. Fish something different or a bit different from them. And keep your eyes open for your chance.”
David has always done well in local tournaments and just fishing for fun. But he said the pro game is totally different. You not only have to beat the fish and the elements, you have to beat about 200 other guys who are all great fishermen, too.
David’s pro adventures started out at Toledo Bend, a lake he is very familiar with. He was excited about the fishing, but weather conditions turned sour and he ended up without a fish in two days. In fact, he says, he’s not even sure he had a bite. He never dreamed that would happen. But he didn’t come home and take up crappie fishing. He just honed his plans and headed out for tournament No. 2.
Right now, he’s pretty sure he’ll try again next year, but he’s waiting until the schedule comes out in a few weeks to see what lies ahead.
“I improved in every tournament and I’ve been picking these guys brains,” he says. “I learned a lot, saw some beautiful fishing spots and am so glad I tried it. I even caught a six pound smallmouth in Wisconsin. The Mississippi River up there is nothing like it is here. It’s beautiful up there. Fishing these tournaments takes a lot of time and a lot of money even to fish as a non-boater. But it’s a blast.”